“Do you know what? I actually feel like I’m abroad somewhere!”
He didn’t know it, but the gushing tourist had just made my day. “Honestly, the smell of the cooking, the music, the atmosphere… It’s hard to believe I’m in Wales!”
I smiled. This was exactly the vibe that I had hoped to create.
From the first meze board that I carried out onto the sunny terrace last June, I knew that I was on my way to achieving it.
My main concept when first designing the menu was to bring back my favourite foods from the places I’ve lived or travelled over the past few years. To create a kind of hostel cafe, minus the hostel.
This has worked well. I’ve loved experimenting with different flavours and I’ve been blown away by the reactions, but recently I’ve felt like I’ve been lacking a solid direction with the cafe, which in turn has sapped my motivation.
Taking some time off over the winter I did some soul searching and realised that one solid constant in my life has been my passion for all things Greek. While away in Austria training for snowboard cross racing, I made my teammates my favourite Greek soup, and when I visited my brother in Abu Dhabi, we ate at “Eat Greek Kouzina” twice in a week.
I realised that I don’t need to look around the world for inspiration when I know deep down that my best recipes are those that I grew up eating, those that have been passed down for generations. I’m at my happiest when I’m peeling garlic and singing along to Greek folk music. This hunch was confirmed when I went back to Corfu for a few days last month. After three years it wasn’t the sun and the sea that I yearned for, but my yaya’s soup and my theia’s cheese pies.
By the time I came back to Wales, and saw the sun start to heat up that terrace once again, I knew exactly what I wanted to do this summer. I want to go back to my roots, and bring a taste of Greece back to north Wales.
The moment I sat down with my notebook, the nine muses came to me, and they had their chef’s whites on. What started as an idea for a Greek night with a five or six choice set menu escalated to visions of opening a restaurant, and I’m currently trying to whittle down a list of almost twenty main courses.
It’s happening. On the 27th of June, I will start opening Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, with a full, Greek inspired menu. There will be traditional Greek dishes along with some of my slightly quirky British fusion adaptations. Yes, the southern-fried chicken and tzatziki wrap is staying, and meet her friend, stuffed with lamb and mint grills and feta.
I’ll stick to my usual Caffi Kiki menu during the day for the time being, serving my award winning breakfasts and internationally inspired lunch menu from 10-6, and then switching to the evening menu from 6-9.
I’m still committed to offering varied vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options, which is actually a lot easier than people realise, with Greek cuisine being one of the healthiest in the world. Greeks fast for 40 days over lent, which means that lots of popular Greek dishes are naturally meat and cheese free. I just have to avoid the temptation to add feta to everything.
Anyway, I digress. I had better get back to editing these menus, which I hope to post over the next few days. Stay tuned for more information!